Day 23. Bucket List Trip

Safe Travels Home, may the wind be at my back. 

This miracle trip has finally come to an end and it is time for me to head home. I’m actually ok with it.  I miss my bed!! I have had a pillow with me this entire time, because I sleep better with my pillows. But, this pillow had been with me at every locations, New York, Venice, Florance, Rome, New York again, Woodstock, New York again (again), Tampa and then finally back to California. I had it with me to lean on during every plane ride, bus ride, train ride, tram ride and even some of the cab rides. 

I was so lucky to be able to have such an amazing experience. I feel so blessed. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to go back to my normal life again.  Yet, at the same time I’m actually looking forward to it. I’m also looking forward to using my brain a bit. 

There were so many wonderful times on this trip.  I’m so grateful l that I got to see the country and the city life of each location.  As soon as we started growing tired of a place, we would be leaving for a entirely new place. Each new city brought new beautiful sites and new experiences. 

  
  New York City was base camp but I still got to go upstate to sleep in the country for a day. 

I got to see the bustle of San Marcos square


To the quiet more residential areas of Venice and lovely aquatic roadways. 

  

I got to stay in a large popular square in Florence  

 while enjoying the frantic Flornce city life (there are no street lanes. You just drive. It’s crazy)  

  
To the sweeping hills of the Chianti region. 

In Rome we got the best view of the park from our Hotel room.  

   
And yet we got to travel in the city and see all the excitement there.  

 
Once in Tampa I thought things would slow down but they didn’t. And again I got to enjoy city living  

   
As well as the serenity of the lakes and the beauty Tampa has to offer. (Though I’m sorry the food does not compare to Italy)
    
It’s been a trip of a life time. Now back to reality.

  
 Ciao Bella’s

Day 22. Bucket List Trip

Bring on The local entertainment

Today I was able to check off two things on some of my imaginary to do lists.

  1- I got to go Crocodile searching on an airboat in a swampy lake in Florida. 

2- I got to continue the “pay it forward” from the Johnny and Karl gift and treat Crystal and mom, Emlie to the same excursion. What made that even more cool was that neither of them have done this either.  So, it was a new experience for all of us. 

  We were 3 of 13 people on this air boat that hovered over the water.  Even though I am sure the boat was not light with all of our weight, we were still able to surf Accross small trees and bushes. Branches sticking out of the water weren’t an issue either. Crystal, mom and I were lucky enough to land the front row; so, we had a completely unobstructed  view. The view was amazing.  

  

You could see the sky in perfect reflection on the water. It was such a beautiful sight.  

  The birds were chirping all around us. They would wait for us to cruise by and then take off in all their glory in front of us. 

  And below us was nearly 7000 crocodiles.  We saw a few baby crocs and their mothers watchful eyes just a few feet away.  But, the larger crocodiles were much better at hiding their bodies from our eyes. 

 
The air boat was loud and fast, I had a blast. It was some of the best money I have ever spent. If was 60 minutes of peace and joyful fun. I had the biggest smile on my face the entire time. 

  

Day 21. Bucket List Trip

Disney World or Disney Hell

Today was a “up before the dawn”, stressful drive to Disney World in Orlando. Having always been a California girl, I’ve only ever gone to Disney Land. So, I was excited to see the famous Disney World. 

Sadly it seems much like Disney land, just bigger.   A Lot of over priced Disney inspired merchandise. Or, hour plus long lines to enjoy a ride.  All in hopes that the ride is a semi entertaining.  But of course, it is a  Disney inspired ride, geared more for kids then adults. Which is great for kids but….

I’m not gonna lie, I was disappointed that they didn’t have more extreme roller coasters (because that is what I like). I’m sure if I had children with me they would have been in Disney Magic heaven.  But me personally, I don’t like lines or chaos. I don’t need to wait and hour for a picture with Donald Duck. (I could give a shit about Donald).  I don’t need to walk around sporting chamo or lace inspired Mickey Mouse ears, actually I would rather wear a slicker all day, then wear one of those ugly hats. ( But, when I was a child I had the standard black Mickey ears, I’m not gonna lie.)

They say it’s the happiest place on earth and yet kids everywhere passed me crying.Whining  that they were tired, or didn’t want to walk anymore. Parents everywhere, were sweating to death in the humid 90• heat. As they willingly donated their life savings to this huge company, that just happens to always portray the step mom, as some horrible woman that hurts people and must be destroyed. 

On the flip side I had a wonderful time hanging with my adopted family and eating our way through “food and wine” in epcock park. Of course as in all cases with Disney, the wonderful sampling of food from all countries of the world, paled in comparison to the real thing and was extreamly overpriced. I paid $4.00 for 2 mediocre pot stickers, in China. But, Disney wrangles you into buying more foods from all the countries by tempting the consumer with the promise of a free wine glass when you’ve gone a certain amount of times. (It’s all a brilliant racket!) 

Anyway here are some pictures. LOL 

 
  

  I’ve decided that I am just not a Disney Kind of Girl.  Disneyland and Disney World remind me of a casino. It’s all geared and engineered to keep you there and spend more money.  Prime example is “meet the princesses” breakfast.  You have to pay some ungodly amount to meet the princess’s, but you get breakfast 😉 ( I bet it’s a buffet). When I was a little girl meeting the princess’s was free. They would just walk around the park and you could hug them and talk to them right there in the street. 

Oy I’m gonna get off my rant and just say, “I’m glad I went at least once but I probably will never go again.  It’s just not worth it to me”. 

Day 20 Bucket List Trip

What’s a vacation without a beach trip

Today Crystal and I took a little drive to. Sweet town Called Tarpon Springs. It was a cute little Greek side village. Specializing in catchy beach items, Greek food and natural sponges. 

We spent our time tooling around the shops and seeing if there was absolutely anything we couldn’t live without, which of course there was.  Then we had a nice Greek meal at a very Greek restaurant. Where they yelled “UMPA!!” When they set the fish on fire.  I felt very much back in Italy, with the white Roman statues placed behind my head.  

After shopping for an hour or so we took off to a park called “Howard Park”. It was this beautiful green park just off of a very high end residential area. Once you drove through the lush green trees and picnic benches,

   
 
You hit the bay and the road extends, like its own extended pier, with crisp blue water on both sides of you. This wonderful road deposits you onto an island that has white sandy beaches all the way around. 

 

view from the road


The water was a perfect 78 degrees. It felt like you were taking a salty bath. The water was so clear you could see the fish swimming around you.  It didn’t take crys and I long to get in the water and yet we stayed in there for while.  

  
  We just sat or squat so we were fully emerged and let the waters lap at our chests. We just taked and talked, like we hadn’t been able to talk for months.  

It’s been years since I’ve been able to go swimming and I can’t tell you how amazing it felt. I want to go again before I go!!

  
I’m going to miss Crys, Karl and Johnny so much when I leave. 
 

Day 19. Bucket List Trip

Time for Some Heat 

(Wait I said heat not damp and hot!)

I woke up before the Dawn back in Manhattan today and got myself down the 45 marble steps in my clogs, while carrying over 60lbs in luggage.  I didn’t even kill myself doing it, which I thought I would end up doing.  Hailed a taxi to the airport and then jumped on YET another plane.  Now I’m in Tampa, Florida. 

  
As part of this Bucket List Trip, Johnny added in me seeing both Tampa for the first time. As well as me seeing my Best Friend Crystal and her family in their new homes.  It was about 68 degrees in NY during the day. When I left at 6am it was about 45 degrees.  When I arrived in Tampa it felt like 90 degrees.  I had sweat coming from pores I didn’t even know I had. 

  
It’s been so good to see my adopted family again.  It’s like I just saw them yesterday. Nothing has changed except their home and their all really tan now.  

We just took it easy all day because I am still jet lagged. I took a nap on the plane and two naps on their couch. We then went to her sisters house, so I could see her beautiful property.  

   
   
It’s so peaceful and beautiful here. Everything is so green and lush. I’m going to go back home and get depressed because everything is brown and dead in California. Seeing Jen’s backyard I can understand why they chose to move here, it’s breathtaking. ( I almost forgive them for leaving me now that I’ve seen it). 

But, I’m not sure I could ever live in this heat! 

Day 18. Bucket List Trip

Woodstock or Bust

I woke up at 3 am into total blackness and all I could hear was something running.  It wasn’t the heater because that old dog made a completely different sound; It was something else. I just knew I wasn’t in my home .  I couldn’t place the sound at all, which I found unnerving to say the least. It wasn’t until 4 or 5 hours later that I finally figured out what the running was. 

  
It was this beautiful creek rushing by my bedroom window. After knowing where the noise came from, and appreciating What a wonderful way to wake up it is, I was finally able to relax.  

I forgot just how much I love this cabin.  It’s a place of peace and harmony for me and I never want to leave once I’m here.  Even having been there during a rain storm once, I didn’t care. I’m content to just be laid out in front of the fire or in the magestic serenity of sleeping in the screened in porch. 

  

The guys have made so many comfortable and peaceful little pockets for their guests to enjoy, it’s impossible to not feel relaxed while you stay there.  It’s impossible to not be struck by its beauty during any season. I’m so happy for my guys, that they have made this beauty a reality for themselves. I’m glad they have a break from their jobs because they both work so very hard.  

  
We were getting ready to leave and I watched as this chipmunk scurried around the front of the house collecting nuts for the quickly approaching winter months.  I wanted to “pay it forward” for those cute little chipmunks and help them in their work. In a sense let them have a day off.  So, I spent about 10 minutes collecting any nuts I could find and putting them in a pile in the middle of the grassy area I had last seen the little chipmunk.  It was my hope that my contribution would help them get their own vacation. We will never know but my intentions were good.     

 (I swear while I was gathering the nuts I could feel several chipmunk eyes on me. It felt like they thought I was taking their nuts.  I could feel them wanting to bite me in the butt. So, I worked quickly and this is what I was able to leave for them.)

Day 17. Bucket List Trip 

The Day of Travel 

Today has been a trek! An absolute trek! I woke up at 6 am in Italy. For the first time the entire trip ( funny enough on my last morning) I got to see the sunrise. At home I am always up before the dawn. But this trip I have been usually going to sleep right before the dawn. 

  
  
 I can’t tell you how nice it was to finally see my first Italian sunrise. 

We then traveled by taxi 45 minutes to the airport; Which was the wrong terminal. So, then it was A 15 min bus ride to the correct terminal. A five minute tram ride to the gate. Then a 10 hour airplane ride which they tried to put Johnny in two different aisles and both of us in a middle seat because of over booking. (This is when it pays to be the annoying American) We both just stood there and said, “think again”! Johnny had to show them he paid for specific seats. After haggling with them we finally got them to move the people in our seats so we could sit together and not in the center! After the flight we had another 45 minute taxi ride to Manhattan. Where we re-packed and ate a bit, it was now 4:30pm In NY. 

We then took a 20 minute subway ride to port authority. Where we caught a buss for a 2 hour Long ride to Kingston NY. It was here on the bus that I caught my first U.S. Sunset in two weeks.  

  Once arriving in Kingston  at 7:10pm NY time, we took a 30 minute taxi ride to Woodstock. Where we jumped in Johns car for a 5 minute drive to the cabin.  I finally put my feet up at 8pm NY time.  

 
With all of that travel, for all those hours and all those miles, things actually went surprisingly well.  The only real stress we had was at the airport gate, when trying to get our seats back.  It was a very long but surprisingly relaxing travel day.  

(Maybe it was because I took a Xanax for the first time in my life right before we started flying? I don’t know? )

I’m happy to be back in America where there are always toilet seats on the toilets (unless your in a scary gas station).  Where there is no smoking in most place. Where I can read and understand all the signs  (except for in china town or little Mexico), where when people are talking and looking at me I know what they’re saying. 

I will miss a lot of Italy. The amazing wines and scrumptious food! The surrounding history and that feeling of knowing I’d been there before. All the cool outside cafes.  The very cool outfits that people wear.  People watching in Italy was a favorite pastime. (How some woman where stilettos on cobblestone streets is beyond me?)  But, most of all just the relaxation of it all.  It was an amazing trip!!!

Thank you so much John and Karl, I love you both so much!!! Prego mi amores! (Or something like that.  

  
 

Day 16. Bucket List Trip

Last day in Italy

Finally my stay in this historical beautiful country has come to an end. I’ve had such a wonderful time and can’t thank my friends enough for probably the best birthday present of my life.

We didn’t have a lot that we really wanted to do anymore. The only real big thing was Johnny wanted to see the gallery of bones. So, we walked the few miles over to the museum that housed it. Nestled deep in the basement of another religious paraphernalia church? they had several small rooms which a monk took the bones from a number of dead Friars and made art with them.

 I mean everything was decorated with human bones. Walls were decorated in mystical way with hip bones and fingers. Chandeliers were designed with chest bones, while the rooms would themselves depict respectful scenes  of important Friars in alter form. Mummy like full skeletons laid to rest along the sides and in the front of the alters, while hundreds of leg bones held them in their resting place.

  I thought I would get another heavy feeling in my chest being in this house of death, like I did in the park in Florence and again In the Stephano church, but I was fine. It was all very odd and gruesome at first. But, upon reading how it all came to be. To know that it was art for this monk and that he had nothing but respect for the dead Friars and their bodies everything seemed very pure and thoughtful. You felt the respect and care that must have been taken to keep their holly bones in harmony.

Day 15. Bucket List Trip

Damn The Rain Let’s go 

Today the guys and I decided we weren’t going to let a little crappy weather stand on the way of us seeing some more of the beautiful Rome sights. They hired a private guide to take us around to see some of the main attractions, while getting the history of it all. Which was great because we learned a lot while not having to be in a big group of other annoying tourists, or having to wear matching shirts. 

We first went to the Forum, which is where past leaders had their communes.  When you walk past the forum, which we had done our first day, it just looks like a bunch of ruble.  

   
Honestly I’m not sure, besides of course the history of it all why they haven’t rebuilt on the land. But, it was quite normal in the old days for emporers to build their own monuments and large walled-in compounds upon becoming leader.  While at the same time destroying every part of the last emporers buildings. This being their first act of power. Beyond the free standing columns left over not holding up or connecting to anything, you can also find many statues of old leaders with the heads cut off; A symbol that Rome was under a new leader. 

We then went (despite the rain) to the Coliseum.  It was exactly what I expected it to be, grand and sad at the same time. 

  There are 40 different entrances to the coliseum. Each entrance specific to one of the 40 different classes of people during that time. 

  If you look closely above the arch that they would enter from, you can see they are all numbered and depending on what class you were in, there was a door specific to your class.   

 

The wealthiest of the classes got to sit lower to the Coliseum floor. The poorest class were on the very top. The entire purpose of the coliseum was to bring the masses together for entertainment. 

   

  The gladiators were usually slaves or criminals, that would surly find their death in the arena. If by chance they could survive they could at some point buy their way out of either position. At that point the gladiators were revered by the people and lusted after by the wealthy woman, even though they were the lowest of classes. 

  
   They stored the animals and gladiators under the arena and to the sides where the forum was, until it was their turn to fight or die. It was all about a show for the masses so, apparently they would start the show by bringing out a 14 year old girl and a bull. Where the crowds would watch the bull rape her and then kill her by knawing her to bits. 

(There is no picture of this, thank god!)

It was also never as entertaining to have an even fight because what fun would that be? They would usually they would pair men with large unknown animals ( they did not know the temperament of elephants, giraffes, Lyons)  or a gladiator with a sword fighting one with a ball and chain, all in hopes of trying to bring the people the bloodiest spectacle they could. 

  

 In the picture above, in the top right side, you can see the pulley elevator that slaves would have to wrinch by hand, the gladiators and animals up to the arena floor above. 
The coliseum is currently being washed by a private company who is trying to take over all rights to it. All of the seats and anything of any money that was used in the making of the mass area have been stolen over time. 

  If you look at the picture above you can see holes in the walls and arches where pieces of rare metals and marble have been carved out and stolen. 
As if that wasn’t enough death and violence to try to comprehend for one day, we then walked over to a very small not so known church called “Santo Stephano” that had all sorts of paintings demonstrating the ways people of the time would have them selves killed to marter themselves.  

a man being crushed alive

 This was all in hopes of finding life everlasting in the afterlife. But, as Christians it was wrong to commit suicide so they would have other people kill them  to achieve their Marter status.  Being in this church I was again faced with a very heavy chest and found it hard to breath. Which made me wonder, was I one of these fools that chose to die this way?

a woman having her breasts cut off

   
Men and woman would volunteer willingly for this supposed status in death. (What the hell is wrong with people!? Was all I could think). Interestingly enough even though the church is walled all the way around (as it is one of the only round churches in Rome) with these brutal paintings, it is one of the most popular places currently for locals to get married.  Again, I found myself thinking, what the fuck is wrong with people? The last thing I would want while celebrating my love to another, is be surrounded by all the depictions of death!

Now When they say “when in Rome…”, I’m thinking, “oh hell no!!”

Day 14. Bucket list Trip

Everyone Needs A Day Of Rest, Even on Vacation 

We all woke up today to find the weather man was actually right. It has been raining and cold, with really strong winds. It was an easily made collective decision to stay inside and enjoy the comforts of the hotel we are in. Besides the big comfy beds, amazing views  

   
 We also have a really amazing pool room to enjoy.  

Let me just tell you about this places inside pool area. (I would post pics but they are not allowed. So I took some from the website) the spa is located downstairs and is all dark and disco like, with multi colored lights changing in the ceiling.    

It’s a heated Olympic size pool. You never once feel cold even when you first get in. 

  
Right next to it (to the left you can kind of see ) they have six sections of hot tub type areas. Yes six!! And all different. This area is just as long as the pull but about a third as wide. The first section is just like a normal hot tub. You sit on a cement seat with jets hitting your back. (Nothing to write home about)

The second section has these awesome metal reclining chairs with neck rests (yes all of this is in water). When you sit on the chair you feel bubbles coming out of the arm rests and all over the seat which massage your entire body! It’s the most relaxing and therapeutic tub I’ve ever been in. I love how it makes my arms and calves feel.

The third section are like little pods. Circular sections you stand in by yourself. Then these huge bubbles start at your feet and practically push your legs up out of the water. This is like a foot and leg massage from the gods! Perfect for leg pain or sore butts from walking. 
The fourth section (which is the only one I have a picture of),

  

There are three waterfalls that you stand under. The water shoots out so quickly, it almost hurts. Johnny said his necklace almost broke from the force. The injured should not try these it can be too much force, Especially on your head. But, if you just hold on and relaxe a bit, it’s like the best shoulder massage ever!

The fifth section looks just like a pool, but there are these metal bars coming out of the deck, that you hold on to. You then turn on the jets and hold the fuck on! Because the jets force your body from standing to laying position. This one gets your back or belly, depending on which direction your standing. And if you can manage to hold on tight enough and stay standing it will massage your feet as well. 

The sixth section is the only part not in the same body of water like the others are. Because they are two separate bodies of water. One is much hotter then the hot tub water and one is much colder. I think so, that you can get your pores and muscles to open or relaxe more depending of what you need. 
I usually get tired of being in a hot tub after 10 minutes or so (unless there’s a good looking man there). But, in this oasis of different aquatic massage treatments I’m in it for like an hour going from section to section changing the muscles I’m having massaged. 

If we only had this in a club where I lived! I would Join in a hot Minute. 

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